So much has been written so far about the death of the website. This post is NOT about it.
This post is about how much life there is outside the website. Culturally, the website was born as the place for brands to speak to consumers, just like a physical place, the website gets visited by users who specifically search for it, for its content or get attracted by the experiences it offers. But there is much more.
Peter Morville worked on Information Architecture since 1994 and found out that for IA what matters is a balance of context (and business), user (needs and behavior) and content. Then, his area of interest shifted from Information Architecture to User Experience. This is when he found out a lot of other components mattered for the user.
The user - according to Morville - lives experiences based on 7 different elements, as this diagram represents:
The User Experience Honeycomb by Peter Morville
This representation highlights that a valid User Experience must be
Assuming that User Experience is made at least of all of these elements, it's quite clear how these aspects are not limited to the traditional concept of website. Information Architecture traditionally focuses on websites (some experiments try to extend out of it, but it's not the praxis).
What's outside the website is not just website promotion. We need to shift the perspective, putting the user at the center of our view and seeing the digital experience from his / her point of view. As soon as we do it we see how much the digital experience is made of places, structures, but also connections between places, between users, conversations and gathering points.
Associating User Experience to Information Architecture is good, but it's not enough. If we detach the "user" part and extend the expression to "Experience" (instead of "User Experience"), we see how much overlapping there is with real life. We find out that:
- Information Architecture can be associated to Building Architecture, the activity of designing and constructing structures
- User Experience covers the total built environment (not only a single building / website)
The Environment around those structures we traditionally define as websites (or even portals) is full of life and sometimes it's good to see it as an entry point, but most of the times it must be a meeting point. Brands that understood it are coming out and creating experiences outside the traditional website, they're meeting their consumers where they're living their experiences, they're adding their value to the users' conversations right where they are.
Websites are still valid when they generate unique value that cannot be generated where the users are. But if great value can be added to the consumers' conversation outside a website, it's much easier to reach users without needing to be reached. Why should they come to the brand if the brand can go and join them?What's your experience about it? Do you prefer to interact with brands when they come to you?
User Experience outside the website means:
- useful - offer great content where users expect it.
Example: Mercedes Benz - The Live-Well Dashboard
- desirable - offer content that's valid on a level of image, identity, brand and emotional design
Example: Burger King - Seth MacFarlane's Cavalcade of Cartoon Comedy
- accessible - build experiences that can be potentially lived by the largest number of people
Example: Kraft - iFood
- credible - communicate trustable content
Example: Barack Obama - Social Media campaign (see Facebook)
- findable - make it easy for users to find you
Example: (put any brand's name that invests in Search Engine Optimization)
- usable - design experiences that allow users to achieve their goals easily
Example: Burn - Burn Alter Ego
or, in general, experiences that adapt to interaction model already known by the user (Burn's one integrates seamlessly with Facebook interaction solutions)
- valuable - the user experience must be valuable for who creates it
Example: Red Bull - Red Bull Connect (it's a website, but we need to focus on the Social Network connections)